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Poster: jerlouvis Date: Sep 15, 2011 10:55am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Jerry/JGB/Dead

I have been listening to a lot of JGB for the last few months and it got me to thinking about the differences in Jerry's playing style in his solo efforts as opposed to the GD.I would find it interesting to hear what folks thought about things like the different JGB lineups,Jerry's sound and approach to the music in the JGB,song selection,things like that.While listening to the JGB music what has been standing out for me is how different a player he is JGB as compared to GD,only one guitar,Kahn instead of Phil,one drummer as opposed to two,or one drummer who isn't Billy,etcetera.It seems to me to be a wide ranging topic and wondered what you folks thought about it.

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Poster: light into ashes Date: Sep 15, 2011 11:58am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Jerry/JGB/Dead

It is a big topic that's barely been explored.
No time to write now, but I think to some extent Jerry adopted a consciously different style for the JGB. For instance, in 1976 he spoke of intentionally playing very slow solos with lots of space between the notes, as a way of exploring a new style; and you can hear that in JGB shows of that year.
And of course, in the JGB he got to indulge himself with all the slow ballads he wanted - there isn't the song variety you get in a Dead show - though Jerry did do different genres on his own as well, a JGB show sounds more samey....

Then again, perhaps it was just having different players (no Lesh, no Weir, etc) and a band that didn't push him like the Dead did - more like 'hired hands,' as it were. So naturally his playing wouldn't go to the same places.
He often said that the players in the Dead kept surprising him, that he didn't know what they'd do next. I assume that in the JGB, he always knew what the other players would do next, and could more or less float comfortably on a more rigid backing.
Can't go into details, though - something to think about...

This post was modified by light into ashes on 2011-09-15 18:58:35

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Poster: unclejohn52 Date: Sep 16, 2011 8:07am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Jerry/JGB/Dead

It certainly is a wide ranging topic, and I've thought about this often.

The most important part of the equation for me is that Garcia had a tremendous "addiction" to play all the time, every day... he needed a fix. First and foremost for him was to satisfy this need to make music, and I don't think playing with the GD satisfied him nearly enough. 80 shows a year average with the band was never sufficient. (Consider only 40 GD shows in 1974 versus 146 shows in 1969.) Being the ultimate musician - he had an insatiable appetite for songs and needed a wide variety of songs and musicians to play with and keep him inspired. I think the side projects helped keep him fresh and energized - like the String Band, Legion, JGB and Old and In The Way - were just more outlets for what was literally bursting out of him.

For me, the JGB music is much more intimate - it's not stadium rock, and that's a good thing. (Don't get me wrong, I love GD stadium rock as much as anyone.) The songs are personal statements, material that he wouldn't necessarily play with the Dead. (Songs like Russian Lullaby, Lonesome, Simple Twist of Fate) The arrangements are more informal, and occasionally feel more like jamming with friends than polished performances, although the polish and level of playing is undeniably virtuoso. Amazing jamming too - sometimes 4, 5, 7, passes through on a solo! As many times as he wanted! And when he drops off to play rhythm instead of lead - I just love it. His "backup" guitar is the best, the most creative. (Tough Mama is a good example.) Another quick point - looking quickly through the song catalog on thejerrysite - dozens of songs were played only one time! Literally like trying out stuff, exploring, looking for potential. This didn't happen often with the GD - some songs were played to death, 400-600 times, no wonder Garcia felt stale with some of 'em. So although LiA makes the point that JGB didn't push Garcia musically like the GD did, I would say that JGB demonstrates Garcia pushing himself into different territory, in just as adventurous fashion.

I think JGB really gave him freedom to explore, loosen up and play whatever he felt like playing, in a context that had no criteria for success or failure - just music, man.

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Poster: jerlouvis Date: Sep 16, 2011 10:32am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Jerry/JGB/Dead

You pointed out something that isn't often recognized UJ52,the fact that he is such a fine rhythm guitarist.You hit the nail on the head on all the points you made,I just differ with you on a few as to how successful he was achieving his goals.With the gift of hindsight and understanding it (JGB) was a side project, I still have to say I'm disappointed in the song catalog,I know he played what seemed to be a wide variety,but in reality the rotation was very tight for years at a time when he would work in a few new ones here and there,it seems like nit picking but just think how much more interesting the JGB legacy would be if he did another 100 or 200 songs,and that would have been possible by learning 1 or 2 more songs per tour and doing one less How Sweet,Limbo,Midnight Moonlight,etcetera.

My main gripes with the JGB are the talent level of his band mates and how much Jerry challenged himself.I think John Kahn is a terrible musician and dragged down everything he played on.The keyboard players,I thought Keith did a fairly good job,but never seemed completely settled in to the seat,the guy I thought who took the most chances and challenged Jerry the most was Ozzie Allers,he takes the most shit for his keyboard sounds,but he could flat out play,and Melvin was painfully boring.The drummers seemed to be strictly time keepers,no reflection on their abilities,but they never stood out.
As to the question of Jerry challenging himself and playing some dynamic,on the edge guitar,I never got that from the JGB.I can't recall even one instance were I thought that was a jaw dropping,mind boggling solo,where I can point to many with the GD.This is not to say he didn't play great guitar with the JGB,but it was a very safe style,I would have loved for him to go off and get twisted.

I feel because he had the JGB,we were cheated out of other possibilities,how cool would a bass,piano and guitar trio have been,or a band with a full horn section,or any of the possibilities you could conjure,as opposed to another tour with Melvin leaning on the B-3,the backup singers yelling at you gospel style,and Jerry playing monotonous riffs on Lay Down Sally.

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Poster: reviewr Date: Sep 17, 2011 9:37pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Jerry/JGB/Dead

I don't really care for John Kahn's playing either. I remember reading somewhere (Steve Parish's book?) that Jerry valued all that Kahn did behind the scenes. Kahn was the guy who introduced a lot of the band members to Jerry. Kahn put the band together and kept things moving, and Jerry just showed up and played.

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Poster: unclejohn52 Date: Sep 16, 2011 2:31pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Jerry/JGB/Dead

Good to have a dialog on this jerlouvis, maybe we can kick up a few more opinions as well...

I'm certainly no expert on JGB - I only dabble there for a change of pace. I just really dig almost anything Garcia does with that guitar. For my taste, Garcia plays the most melodic solos of anyone - period. That said, I'm not looking for on-the-edge, melt your face solos every time out - just beautiful guitar music; so our criteria is different. And, since we don't know his goals for the band, it's hard to judge if he was satisfied, but he must have enjoyed it quite a bit. But, I agree that I've heard mostly the same limited set of songs as you mention, and it's possible he was playing "down" to the limits of the other musicians, ie., the known and rehearsed, well-trodden songs.

Also agree re John Kahn... and that the keyboards were a crucial element that really limited the group on some occasions. I often like Nicky Hopkins' playing, totally agree on Melvin being a snooze... but I'm not as familiar with Allers - what years was he with Jerry, so I can listen more closely? (which recordings?)

As to your last point - I can never feel cheated by what might have been. Garcia gave us so many shows to hear, so much music, millions of notes... what, about 2400 GD shows, 1400 JGB shows, Old & In the Way, Acoustic Band & Grisman shows... countless recordings. Can anyone name another performer who's given us a greater legacy or more music? But your point is taken - how cool would other possibilities have been...

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Poster: jerlouvis Date: Sep 16, 2011 4:05pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Jerry/JGB/Dead

Yeah UJ52,like we all said it is topic that has many possible discussion points,and I was hoping different areas would be explored,so the conversation would expand,you hit on a few good ones in your posts.Ozzie Allers was in the band for about 50 odd shows between Oct 79'-Nov 80',he played about as many solos as Jerry did,and some of his synth sounds could be irritating(like Brent),but he could play,I will add that I really don't care for keyboards,but if I have to hear them at least he ripped it up some.
What I meant about the safe style of playing Jerry had was the music never just reached out and grabbed you by the brain,like the Dead had the song portion and the more jam oriented portion,the JGB only had the song portion,and I would have loved to hear Jerry on his own explore his guitar in a more free form style,but that plays into 2 points you made,his objective for the band and playing down to his band mates level.I think the JGB was meant to be a good time music band,and the ability of his band mates was not on par with Jerry's.
I didn't want to seem hyper critical,I was just trying to say from a guy who was so creative and into all different kinds of music if you look at his output from 75'-95' project wise it was the GD,JGB,a short stint in Reconstruction,and a few acoustic projects with Grisman,compare that with his 70'-75' output with the GD,New Riders,Howard Wales projects,various bands with Merl,Old and in the Way,Legion of Mary and tons of studio work,it seems that 5 year span in the 70' was as full as the last 20 years of his life.I don't like to be the what if guy,but he was just so singular that I always wanted or expected more,which is of course unreasonable.

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Poster: wisconsindead Date: Sep 15, 2011 3:54pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Jerry/JGB/Dead

This doesnt necessarily answer your questions but I'm much more fond of GD than JGB. I've argued many a times with a certain friend about the fact that GD > JGB. He never seemed to get it. The interplay just isn't as good IMO. Its good music and I could listen to a lot of it, but GD is a whole 'nother galaxy. I also think "the boys" brought out Jerry's best. They could take the music to amazing places only to be made better by jerry.

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Poster: ColdRain108 Date: Sep 15, 2011 3:55pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Jerry/JGB/Dead

JGB was roots music, R&B, sappy love songs,Jer-reggae, gospel. The Dead were big flashy, more impersonal, stadium rock...even in 1972. Even the cowboy songs or the ballads. They needed to fill a big stadium...at least much bigger than the Keystone Berkely and the like.

Grateful Dead was psychedelic acid tripping music. JGB was just plain music in a more classic sense. (not that I ever shyed away from a little miond bending at JGB shows)

I always wished Jerry would go off in the Dead more like he did in JGB, you know, drop off the table lose the song noodling like during Catfish John, make everybody wait until he was good and ready to go back to the song.

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Poster: William Tell Date: Sep 15, 2011 12:39pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Jerry/JGB/Dead

LiA hits it nicely...to me, its akin to how diff Clapton was post CREAM: and in both cases, theres a dropoff n intensity & energy that just doesn't grab me the way the prior lineups/bands do...goes wout sayin, I like jerrys solo album, the first, n which he really just 'does the DEAD' w billy, by himself...saw JGB & Kingfish many times n 70s & the latter always outplayed the former, n the view of many at the time.

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Poster: Diamondhead Date: Sep 15, 2011 5:14pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Jerry/JGB/Dead

Hey, I saw Kingfish - they were cool. Remember their guitarist - a total young whiz? Sounded just like Jerry. The John Kadlecik of the 70s.

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Poster: William Tell Date: Sep 15, 2011 9:06pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Jerry/JGB/Dead

Robbie Hodiknot...that's not how its spelled, but 'sounds like'...great emotive lead on battle of new orleans.

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Poster: Diamondhead Date: Sep 15, 2011 10:52pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Jerry/JGB/Dead

And they had a song real similar to Eyes. It's amazing what pops up in the brain. I wonder what ever happened to him?

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Poster: William Tell Date: Sep 17, 2011 1:19pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Jerry/JGB/Dead

That's so funny you mention that: the HS DEAD cover band I am always talking about did that song, and we called it "Kingfish Eyes of the World"! (I think it was "hypnotized"? or some such).

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Poster: patkelleyPA Date: Sep 16, 2011 5:00am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Jerry/JGB/Dead

I have a relative who lives in Marin who sort of knows Hoddinott, and very coincidentally she and I were talking about kingfish about a year ago. At that time she had seen him about 2 years prior in San Fran looking strung out on something. I guess he can still play though, and gets some work at clubs.

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Poster: William Tell Date: Sep 17, 2011 1:18pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Jerry/JGB/Dead

That's too bad; always liked him.

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Poster: ducats Date: Sep 15, 2011 4:53pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Jerry/JGB/Dead

always been a JGB man myself